Local hoops coaches share thoughts on new GHSA rule

By Anthony Rhoads

In the March meeting of the Georgia High School Association executive committee, a new mercy rule for basketball was passed.

The new mercy rule states that each quarter will be reduced to six minutes if the point differential at halftime is 40 or more points and the trailing team's coach chooses to have the mercy rule imposed. The mercy rule will go into effect automatically if the point differential is 30 or more points at the beginning of the fourth quarter.

"I don't have an opinion one way or another but I don't think it will be used very much," Stockbridge boys head coach and athletic director Mark Andrews said. "Forty points is a lot."

Andrews did say that coaches should do their best to not run up the score against opponents whether a mercy rule is in place or not.

"As coaches we should maintain integrity of the game and that includes not running up the score," he said. "I don't have a problem with the mercy rule, I think it's fine."

While he is not against the mercy rule, Jonesboro girls head coach John Kovzel said one drawback to it is that it cuts back on the amount of time a coach can use younger players in a game. A blow-out game can give a coach the chance to put in players who normally don't get very many minutes.

"I kind of have mixed emotions," Jonesboro girls head coach John Kovzel said. "It kind of limits and takes away from other kids who might get playing time in the second half. It's going to affect those kids' playing time."

Like Andrews, Kovzel said the mercy rule probably won't have to be used very much.

"I don't think too many teams will be leading by 40 points," Kovzel said.

"I've not been in that situation so it's hard to say to tell the truth."

Henry County head coach Clint Satterfield said he supports the new mercy rule .

"I think the mercy rules in all the sports are good," Clint Satterfield said. "It keeps people from getting embarrassed. I can't think of a coach who wouldn't want a mercy rule. If you're up by 40 points, you want to end it and you don't have anything to prove. If you're behind by 40 points, you just want to go to the house; it's like going to the dentist. There's no place in high school sports for running up the score."

The GHSA has mercy rules for other sports including baseball, soccer and football. The football mercy rule was first put into effect during the 2003 season.